SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

November 14, 2008

Piriformis Syndrome won't go away without therapy

Are you having trouble figuring out how the intense pain that runs down the back of your leg began? Perhaps it was a long day working in the yard or the extra mile you added to your walk. It could also be that you sat too long in the theater or watching the ball game. If you have pain in the buttock that travels to the knee or ankle, you might have Piriformis Syndrome.

PS can be excruciatingly painful. Pain typically begins in the back of the hip around the mid-buttock and travels down the back of the leg into the knee. In severe cases it will reach the ankle. One of the most common complaints is that you are unable to bear weight on the affected limb because "you don't trust it."

Classically, PS worsens as the day passes. Morning stiffness and discomfort transform into a throbbing, toothache-like pain by late afternoon. Unfortunately, most patients are unable to find a position of comfort and must deal with their symptoms until falling asleep for the night - only to look forward to the cycle beginning again in the morning.

As the biggest nerve in the body, the sciatic nerve is responsible for the sensation in the back of your leg from your hip to your ankle. Imagine what it would feel like if you put that nerve in a vice and tightened it down. The piriformis is a thick, tough muscle with two distinct heads that are in close contact with the sciatic nerve. In 25 percent of the population, the sciatic nerve passes between the two parts of the muscle and is in serious jeopardy of being pinched if the muscle gets tight. In the other 75 percent, the nerve passes underneath the two heads exposing it to forceful compression against the ball of the hip joint.

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